“A Change in the Winds”

This was a random writing exercise in which I blindly picked three words from the dictionary–exact, meadow, and verse–and wrote a short story from it. It’s a little bit odd, but I hope you enjoy it!

            The world was changing. I knew it, my friends and family knew it, and the Council knew it. Perhaps it was good; perhaps it was bad that they knew. The Council was both loved and feared by our people, and that was what scared us the most. The fact that no matter how much the Council abused us, we clung to them like paranoid children during a thunderstorm. Maybe that was how our lives could be explained. A constant thunderstorm; noisy, scary, but not dangerous if you were sheltered. The Council was our shelter. No matter how feeble their protection was, it was still protection from the thunderstorm that was our lives.

            The shelter provided to us was enough to keep us safe. Every day I have to remind myself of that, because I’ve been outside of the Council’s grasp, where they had no power over my actions. I walked right into the raging storm and took my chances against the winds. No one stopped me. No one tried to discourage me. It was just a short walk, through a gate, past a fence, over a meadow, and into the lightning. A walk into the very place we feared the most. I’ve never been the same.

            And yet, despite the fear, it was exhilarating to be out of the exact, monotonous society where the Council ruled. No one questioned their reign, of course, for without them we would be pushed into the very heart of the storm. The storm, many believed, that was created by the Council itself. The Council shelters us from their own creation, gaining our trust and absolute devotion. They lull us to sleep with verse upon verse of deceptions, comforting us with their fake utopia. We know they do it, and yet we cling to them nonetheless. We hold on to their lullaby of lies and use it to shield ourselves from the world. From the storm that was brewing. But as our eyes close and we fall asleep, still clutching the blanket they have woven of our delusion, there is always the urge to look out the window. To see the lightning we only hear. But, like small children, the prospect of it scares us, so we curl up in the bed of lies and false comforts and forget. By morning, the urge has passed and we carry on with our lives.

            But still, the fragile trust the Council has instilled is fracturing. People begin to ask questions, dangerous questions that threaten the Council. They are whispered late at night, and people wonder if the storm is real. You never forget the first time you are slapped by an unwilling hand for asking such questions, even though that person thinks the same questions themselves. Every child has asked, and each one has been silenced. Sometimes by a literal slap in the face, sometimes figurative. I’ve heard stories of such children who were unfortunate enough to receive a figurative slap. The Council always knows when they need that punishment. They are the ones who ask multiple times, who are about to pull back the curtain and glimpse the storm for themselves. They are the ones who are changed forever. The Council knows their worst fears, and they bring them true.

            You hear them late at night. The orphans, crying out for their parents who were taken away in the silky darkness that is so unlike reality. The children of all ages with no family left to lose, who are taken away in the dead of night. They sometimes are not seen again for months. When they return, they are scarred, physically and mentally. When asked what happened, they slowly shake their head and simply mouth, “outside.” They then throw their heads into their hands and sob for hours. Once the initial shock passes, they are pressed for more details. They tell us that they were forced outside of Council boundaries, into the middle of the storm. They tell horrifying tales of poverty, crime, starvation, dehydration, and war. The people who live out there have no laws. They fend for themselves, take what they need, and have never had a scrap of money in their entire lives. Those people have been reduced to practically animals. The children who see it firsthand never question the Council’s kindness and mercy again. And yet, they seem to forget that the reason those people in the storm is because they are an example. An example made by the Council. Those people have been twisted by the darkness and cruelty of the Council itself. And the Council still says that those who show us such kindness cannot possibly be the cause of this.

            We know better.             

            Or, at least, most of us do. Those who can’t see it have been blinded by the lightning. They’ve gone into the storm, and realized that inside the shelter is the only place they are truly safe. Or maybe it’s the other way. Out in the real world is where we can live. I truly believe there is a difference between being safe and actually living life the way we should. The Council knows this. As deluded they are with power, they are smart. You have to give them that.

            They know that by giving rebels and questioners a taste of poverty and war, they’ll come crying back to the safe haven the Council provides. If people in our society are presented with two choices, they will almost always pick the easy way. So, when the Council gives safety, comfort, food, money, clothes; everything we need, people would rather take that option than freedom.

            But the world is changing. I know it, my friends and family know it, and the Council knows it. And if the Council stays put instead of going with the winds of change, they will be blown down. A storm is coming, and the Council had better watch out. It’s our time now.

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